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economic indicator

This version was saved 11 years, 4 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Brian D Butler
on May 5, 2009 at 12:43:56 pm


Economic indicators & leading indicators:

see also USA macro data

lots of data here: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/



Table of Contents:


page director: Brian D.Butler

contributors:   if you are interested in contributing see here




Leading Indicators


Economic indicators that help to inform analysts about the direction of the economy:


OECD leading indicators:



Example from January 2009:  http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/33/21/41968144.pdf

Access to time series data and methodological information for OECD Composite Leading Indicators (CLI) and Consumer and Business Confidence Indicators is provided by the OECD Business Cycle Analysis Database available at the OECD web site at http://stats.oecd.org/mei/default.asp?rev=2



Terrible indicator:

leading home pending sales




Commodities as Leading-Indicators:


  • Copper: 3rd most heavily-used metal. it is cheap and heavy, making storage inefficient...any copper bought is used relatively quickly. when the price rises, it is almost always because of a construction or infrastructure boom. it is mined and refined all over the world and is used all over the world.… that copper is the metal with the Ph.D. in economics in that copper has tended to rise during periods of economic strength  and has tended to wane in periods of weakness. Now, however, we prefer saying that the base metals in aggregate have a Ph.D. in economics, for they do tend to rise when the global economy is rising and fall when the global economy is falling. see mining and metals
  • Cement: basically all the same reasons as above, provides good check for copper
  • Rice: grown in several regions and consumed in most regions...only setback is that it is a staple of many Asian diets, so it skews the consumption...usually a great indicator of other agricultural commodities and tends to "lead the pack."  (concern:  rice might not be good because it is really not traded.  most rice is consumed in the market where its produced (with the exception of a few countries such as Thailand, its mostly because of export barriers).
  • Soy: similar to rice...good to use as a check...also, heavily used in animal feed


  • see also:  commodity and mining and metals




More Indicators:



"Surprise" index:


Citigroup is one of a number of institutions that calculates an "economic surprise index", which measures data outcomes relative to consensus expectations. The real economy aftershock of the Lehman collapse generated a steady skein of worse-than-expected data. More recently, however, analysts seem to have "caught up", and so far this year the data has, in aggregate, come out in line with expectations. source: MacroMan blog




Spread of Junk bonds (high yield bonds) over Treasuries:


If the spread of junk bonds over comparable Treasuries widens, that is a good indicator that bond traders are expecting a recession.   Risk premiums, or spreads, on speculative bonds in 10/2008 (the middle of the credit crisis) widened to the highest level since the great depression, indicating that bond speculators were pricing in a huge recession. 


Shipping as leading indicators....Baltic Dry Index:

a benchmark for global freight costs (indicator that mirrors price of shipping bulk products such as iron ore, coal or grains) read more here:









read more here:  Bespoke Investments




another leading index: measures the rise and fall of manufacturing in the USA....is a leading indicator of economic activity



Venture Capital confidence indicator:



SV VC Confidence Index 2008 Q4


The Silicon Valley Venture Capital Confidence Index hit an all time low of 2.77 in the fourth quarter. (The survey ranks confidence from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest.) It was the fifth consecutive new low since the index began in the first quarter of 2004. The index is compiled by Mark Cannice at the University of San Francisco. He contacted 33 San Francisco Bay Area VCs and asked them about their outlook for the entrepreneurial environment for the Bay Area over the next six to 18 months.




Other indicators

Cardboard sales to indicate manufacturing / shipping in Brazil

Cardboard sales, a key measure of economic activity, fell 4.5 percent in December from a year earlier, the Brazilian Corrugated Paper Association said this week. 



Leading sites for Trend watchers



ECRI maintains well over 100 proprietary indexes for 20 major economies. Our complete index database is available as part of our Professional Services, which also includes analysis and forecasting.


Global Aggregate


Index Geomap





Future prediction?

Here is a list of sites that try to predict what is going to happen next....enjoy...

predicting the future 



Links from GloboTrends

see our discussion of global trends






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